Letters to the editor: 14/09/16

(15 September, 2016) Letters

This week we have discussion of the Millwall compulsory purchase order, and commentary on the Government's Housing and Planning Act

Compulsory Purchase Order  on Millwall

Despite two local MPs and 22 local councillors opposing the motion, nobody was surprised that it was still passed!

Lewisham Council is a bit unusual for a Labour council, in that it is not very democratic, and in reality the Mayor has the final word on all important matters!

It is also clear that the developers do not understand that in order for the Millwall community centre to carry on doing some tremendous community work, they do need to be close to the football club!

For instance, on matchdays, before the game, youngsters can go to the Centre and enjoy the soccer schools!

Apart from enjoying themselves, they may become fans for life!

The centre has a classroom for older students on subjects that include education, apart from becoming a football coach!

It is successful because of the lure of the Den, and the atmosphere of the football club.

The statement by a Lewisham spokesman regarding desperately needed new housing is astonishing. This statement would have had to have been approved by the Mayor. He would be aware  that wealthy property developers will become even wealthier!

He needs to explain how 2,400 luxury flats will be built, and less than 40 will be affordable. Even these will not be affordable to the average family in south London!

How on earth is this going to help the desperately needed housing shortage for the needy?

Surely the 400 genuinely affordable housing, with any profits being shared by the football club and the council, which Millwall are proposing, makes more sense.

I will be very interested in the Mayor’s response!

Wrote the News anonymously



£30,000 for for disability business

Ten years ago, I set up the Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs with the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability to recognise the many talented and ambitious disabled people who have set up their own businesses.

This year I am making the prize even bigger! The winner will walk out with £30,000, and there will be four runner-up prizes.

We are also expanding the entry criteria, so everyone can apply, not just disabled people.

If you, or someone you know, has a company that creates work, products or services for disabled people, we want to hear from you.

The award is now open, and we are keen to hear from all types of businesses, even if still a start-up. Apply now or nominate someone, before the deadline on 10 October 2016  by visiting facebook (Stelios Philanthropic Foundation) or go to www.leonardcheshire.org/stelios

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou , Leonard Cheshire Disability



Council help us fight against new act

Southwark Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Stephanie Cryan, has sent council tenants a letter explaining some bad news – it’ll “have a negative impact on many of our tenants” she writes.

This is about the Housing and Planning Act, 2016 and the letter is indeed disturbing.

In a nutshell, the Housing Act is a systematic attack on council tenants and their homes. Tenants will be means tested and some rents will go up with a ‘pay to stay’ tax. New tenancies will be fixed term, possibly for 2-5 years, rather than for life. Council homes will be sold off to fund Housing Associations’ new Right-to-Buy discounts.

Along with the reduction of planning regulations and council estates becoming ‘Brownfield Sites’, the measures in the Act will drive millions into the private unregulated rented sector. It will make the housing crisis worse and is a threat to everyone.

There is a growing grassroots and institutional opposition. The Local Government Association has called on the government to rethink its ‘pay to stay’ policy, as it “would create a bureaucracy causing stress to families” and “further costs to councils”. London local authorities, including Southwark Council, have told Gavin Barwell, Minister of State for Housing, that the Act will force them to sell up to a third of their housing stock, and asked him to “urgently pause” and “rethink proposals”.

So it’s curious that in her letter Cllr Cryan tells us that the policies are now law and “we have no choice but to implement them”, asking tenants to “provide your income details when you are asked for them”. Of course, tenants need to know what’s happening, but we want the whole picture.

The Act’s many details have yet to be finalised and there are likely to be delays – partly because of the unworkability of the Act, partly because of opposition. And with the momentum building with the Axe the Housing Act Campaign, councillors, tenant groups, housing workers, trade unions and others can come together to stop this.

In view of their opposition to the Act and pledge to continue the campaign, we call on Southwark Council to work with us all, especially other councils, to challenge this unfair, destructive and unworkable law and not implement pay to stay.

The Axe the Housing Act Housing Summit on the 22nd October at NUT HQ, Mabledon Place, supported by Southwark Council, is a key opportunity for them to join others in serious opposition to the Housing Act.

Paul Shrubshall, Southwark Defend Council Housing

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